The Lexicon and Bracknell Underpass Art

At the start of October we went down south for a few days to see our friends Anna & Keith and to check out Bracknell’s newly unveiled town centre.

Anna, Keith & Rob with a wooden dolphin in Bracknell

We’ve been to Bracknell loads of times but only actually been to the town centre once before in 2014, and it’s changed beyond all recognition since then!

Our first/last trip to have a look round was on a grey and rainy Sunday afternoon in November 2014, and it seemed particularly dreary, with hardly anyone around, and most of the old town centre already demolished. I love old shopping precincts though and despite the fact it was so bleak, there was something I really liked about Charles Square.

Charles Square, Bracknell, 2014
Dreary Sunday in Bracknell, October 2014
Bracknell, 2014

One of my favourite things I liked was the fibreglass mural by William Mitchell, which was above an empty shop (Mothercare I think?) in Charles Square. It was commissioned in 1974 for the 25th anniversary of Bracknell becoming a ‘new town’ after the war. I was worried they’d get rid of it as part of the redevelopment but am pleased to hear they’ve kept it and it’s going to be on display permanently on the centre of a roundabout in the town centre! Coincidentally, there is also a William Mitchell mural in Sheffield which I love. The Sheffield one is made from concrete. It would be such a shame to lose these things.

Mural by William Mitchell, 1974. It shows the history of Bracknell.

Read more about the work of William Mitchell here –

More photos I took on our last visit, on my Flickr page – ‘One hour in Bracknell, November 2014‘.

The new centre is called The Lexicon. It opened at the start of September. I wasn’t sure what to expect as despite places getting run down and past their best, I’m never keen on change when it comes to town centre redevelopments. I must say though, I love it! It looks great, and there are so many good shops, plus a food market on the day we went. Think I could easily spend a whole day looking round and spending lots of money I haven’t got! It’s hard to believe this is the same place as the photos above. To be honest, I couldn’t relate the new places to the old at all, even when they were pointed out to me, and I was completely disoriented!

The Lexicon, October 2017
Catholic Church of St. Joseph – I love the design of this building.
Cakes at the food market. I really wanted some Pecan Pie but I’d already had a piece of carrot cake in Marks & Spencer.
Pipe installation display thing in the shopping centre.

There are still a few glimpses of the old Bracknell here and there! I particularly like the library building, and the lettering on the side of the Royal Legion building.

A few glimpses of old Bracknell

One of my other favourite things about Bracknell is all the decorated underpasses you get to walk through on the way to town. Some of them are simple and others are quite ornate. The more ornate the better in my view!

Bracknell Underpass
Seasonal Bracknell scenes, pre Lexicon.

Apparently there are 76 underpasses in total so I think we only saw a small selection! Here are a few faves…

So random, these ones are brightly painted tiles.
The kid with the cross face! LOL! And the woman with the beach ball.
Rob with the girls

I’m not sure of any of the artists, or how old the murals are. They must have taken ages to do though.

Great cattle scenes, these ones are painted, I really like them!
Weirdness. Two girls in a flowerbed in their swimming costumes.
Walking through…

One of the underpasses focused on communication through the ages..

The sun shining in on this scene
Jungle underpass! Love the lion and the parrot. The close up shows what the little mosaic tiles look like. They’re textured.
Anna and Rob with a cowboy and kids. Very bizarre. The more you look at it the weirder it is!!
Classic underpass view

We got the train back in the evening.. I love this mural above the station entrance. Art is everywhere!

Bracknell Station entrance and old-fashioned train mural

If you ever go to Bracknell, make sure you check out some of the underpass art, I feel its one of the towns finest features!



Vintage Greeting Cards – Charity Shop Find!

A few weeks back I found a collection of old greeting cards for sale at St. Luke’s vintage shop at Broomhill (one of my fave charity shops btw). Anyway, I collect vintage cards so it was lucky I found them! This is just a few of them…

Vintage greeting cards

There were about 30 in the collection, some were unused but the majority were addressed to a couple called Dave and Stella. There are birthday cards, engagement cards, wedding and new home cards. Some of the 21st cards are Dave’s, and some are Stella’s.

Vintage 21st Birthday Cards

I think they must have married very young (by todays standards at least) as there is a ‘Happy 21st Birthday to my Wife’ card from Dave to Stella. It’s a big padded one in a box! Cute or what!? I can’t imagine 21 year olds choosing cards like this anymore…

Happy Birthday to my dear Wife

I’m guessing all the cards are 60s, it’s difficult putting a date on them though because some of them are so quaint with sparkles & foiling that they look almost more like a 50s style. And a few of them seem a bit 70s to me. However, looking through them I feel they must all have been sent within a couple of years of each other and therefore there’s no way they can span over three decades! Any ideas? Wish people would date their cards so I don’t have this problem!

I love these pretty ones with glitter and gold foil keys. A lot of them are padded. You never see a good padded card these days do you? The ‘Happy Birthday Greetings’ bit on the one at the bottom is padded. The one on the left also has pink ribbon on the key. All these little touches seem to make the cards of yesteryear really luxurious somehow.

Key of the door

Really love the wording inside this next one, plus the inscription from Stella’s Nan and Grandfather!! So old fashioned with the cigarette! Probably be a vape fag these days, if that’s what you call them. (That’s what I call them).

21st Birthday Card complete with real cigarette. No vaping. Just pure nicotine like a proper young man.

An illustrated one. I’m not really keen on the illustration style, but it’s fun and very of its time I suppose! Weird how it has the garish little cartoons, but also a classic scalloped gold border and script. It’s quite big too.

Illustrated card with gold scalloped edging

This next one is one of my favourites. It’s got foil horseshoes and held it’s held together with ribbon.

Large 21st Birthday Card with beads, horseshoes and a key.

On to Dave & Stella’s engagement cards now. They’re all really pretty and floral and the pink one with two hearts is padded. The middle bottom one with the rose is like a pillow!

Engagement Card selection

Quaint and delightful wedding cards, all in a similar style with wedding bells and horseshoes of course. The one in the centre on the bottom row is photographic and shiny, and I like it best because it’s different. Seems a bit ahead of its time compared to the others.

Vintage Wedding Cards

I really love this fab pop-up card, it’s my favourite one out of all of them.  I would be so happy if someone gave me this on my wedding day!

Congratulations on your wedding.

The way it says ‘Here’s to years of Happy Sledding’ makes me laugh! So quaint and lovely. Get ready for the inside…

Pop-up card! Look at them on their sleigh!

I feel like pop-up cards need to make a come back! Bet they’d be ridiculously expensive to manufacture though.

Lastly, here are a couple of New Home cards. I assume Dave and Stella went about things in the ‘proper’ manner and did not cohabit until married. Shock horror if they did, tut tut. The weather house card is so nice with the funny little picture inside, I love everything about it.

New Home Cards – ‘Set Fair’

I think if this last one was a card it would be my overall favourite, but it’s actually an envelope! It’s pretty much the best envelope I’ve ever seen though! The illustration and typography are spot on. What fun, eh?!

Humour! From GUESS WHO!? We’ll never know I suppose, but whoever filled in the comments was obviously a bit of a card! LOL – gerrit?

I love finding collections of cards such as these, but it does make me think of Dave and Stella and wonder how their lives panned out, and why their cards all ended up in a charity shop. Best not to think about it too much, but I do hope they’re still out there somewhere, still happily sledding.

Aren’t old cards just the best? Anyone else collect them?





Saturday in Huddersfield 

A couple of Saturdays back we went to Huddersfield for the day. I’d only been once before and that was ages ago, so it was definitely time for another visit. I really love Huddersfield, it has some of the best Victorian, Modern and Brutalist architecture I’ve ever seen. It’s worth spending the day there just to check out the buildings. Even the 1970s carpark is bloody great! (in my opinion anyway!)

Market Hall Car Park, Alfred Street

As soon as you leave the carpark and approach the main shopping precinct you’re greeted with this magnificent view.

Buxton House and mural

This is Buxton House, a high rise block of flats just off the main shopping precinct. There’s a walkway which goes right underneath the building and I love the mural, by Richard Fletcher. The flats and mural date from 1968.

Mural by Richard Fletcher, 1968, ‘Systematic Sequence in Line and Shade’.

One of the main places we wanted to go was the market. It’s an open market, quite old fashioned with little cafes, fruit and veg stalls, plus loads of bric-a-brac and records. You can get anything! We were in there ages, you need to get there early on a Saturday I think as they start packing up about three and close at 3.30pm.

On our way to the market we passed a shop with all these sweets. But we didn’t get any.

Huddersfield Open Market

Huddersfield Open Market

I picked up a few little treasures for the Magic Town Midway shop, I could have spent all day in there.

There’s a really nice big shopping centre in Huddersfield called Kingsgate, but the market was definitely the best, and mostly we spent the rest of the day looking round charity shops of course! We also went in Lidl to get some crisps, and a cool record shop called Vinyl Tap.

Vinyl Tap record shop

My favourite thing I love about Huddersfield is definitely the architecture, and all the different types. Below (clockwise from top left) – The Library and Art Gallery built 1937,  Lion Chambers built 1853, Kirkpatrick Buildings built 1883, The Concert Hall (part of the Town Hall) opened in 1881. I really like the lion on top of the Lion Chambers but I found out he’s not the original from 1853… that one was so badly erroded by the 1970s that he was replaced by today’s lion, who is made of fibreglass!! (He was also wearing a scarf on the day we visited.) It’s kind of disappointing that he’s not real, but funny at the same time. It’s good that he’s still there in some form at least.

Huddersfield buildings in all their glory.

This is Westgate House, a mid 19th century building with a frontage which was rebuilt in the 1920s. 

Westgate House, on Westgate

We also popped into the Byram Arcade which is just opposite Westgate House. It was built as as a retail development in 1881/82, and has an amazing interior. There is a good art shop inside.

The Byram Arcade, Westgate.

The old Co-operative building on New Street is another one of my modern 30s favourites. It isn’t in use at the moment and I don’t think it has been for awhile. It was built in 1936 (opened 1937) and has really cool block lettering and a long tiled glass window on the corner. It’s very grand and I think it was one of the finest examples of a department store anywhere in the country when it opened. It has also housed a nightclub and a music school in more recent years, and part of the building is now Wilkinsons. I hope a new use is found for it, it would be terrible if it got knocked down. More about the building here.

Co-operative, 1936


The long and amazing glass window on the corner of the Co-operative building

Opposite the Co-operative building… all the concrete slabs above Home Bargains are a real contrast to the opposite side!

New Street view

I really like this street and the random mix of buildings. You can’t beat a good old shopping precinct, that’s what I always say!

Looking down New Street, about 5pm-ish.

Here are a few more views around Huddersfield. I seriously think I could spend a whole week here, a day was not enough to look round all the charity shops, plus the market AND see all the architecture too! There’s so much we didn’t get to see yet. Clockwise from top left – Mural on Ramsden Street (The Development of the Woollen Industry From a Cottage Craft Practised as an Ancillary to Farming, Up to the Beginning of the Industrial Revolution, 1966) by Harold Blackburn, a view of New Street, Mural on Princess Street (Facets of the Local Scene, 1967) by Mural Consultants, a view of Station Street.

In and around Huddersfield

We also wanted to go into the train station to see if we could get a glimpse of Felix, the Huddersfield Station cat, but she wasn’t around in the main entrance and we couldn’t get onto the platform for a better look! I have never seen a more grand station than this one. It was built in the 1840s at the end of the Industrial Revolution.

Huddersfield Train Station

We did see this magnificent portrait of Felix, which is up on the wall. Underneath it says “Felix”, painted by Rob Martin, 2016. Frame lovingly constructed by Little and Often. Dedicated to the memory of Kenny Everett, this painting is £75,000.00.

Portrait of Felix by Rob Martin, 2016

Check out Felix’s facebook page and follow her for news and updates! Next time maybe we’ll have to go to Huddersfield on the train!


New in the shop: Vintage Children’s Books

I’ve been busy getting the Magic Town Midway shop back up to speed after taking a few weeks away from it while I was redesigning the branding. Here are a few recently listed items…

Some fab new (old) children’s books arrived in the shop at the end of June.

I recently picked up a few vintage children’s books, so I’ve got a good little selection for sale now. Here are a few pix…

This one’s maybe my favourite! She-Ra Princess of Power, Threat to Crystal Castle!

She-Ra, Princess of Power. Threat to Crystal Castle

In this book you can follow She-Ra on her quest to protect Crystal Castle and save Etheria from certain doom at the hands of the evil Hordak! I particularly love the illustrations, they’re really bright and vivid. The book is from the 1986 Mini World series.

Amazing graphics!
Look how fantastic She-Ra and Swift Wind look when they’re in flight!

Here’s a large paperback Tufty activity book dating from the 1970s.

1970s Tufty Activity Book

The book has loads of puzzles, colouring pages, quizzes, stories and projects. And of course some good lessons in safety!

Make your own weatherman!

And obviously it features all the old faves – Tufty, Willie Weasel, Mrs Wise Owl, Mr Bunny Brown Rabbit, Bessie, Bobbie & Betsy, and Police Sergeant Badger.

Awww…look at Tufty having his donkey ride!

Does anyone remember Little Blue, the elephant? He had his very own kids TV series on ITV in the late 70s / early 80s, and I’ve got three little paperback books for sale which come as a set.

x3 Little Blue books, all dating from 1980

Here are the lyrics to his theme tune to help jog your memory…and I’ve found the opening credits on YouTube, so you can sing along if you like, it makes it all the merrier…

Little Blue, Little Blue
Why do they call you Little Blue?
Playing in his bath one day as some of us do,
He bit his mummy’s fountain pen and broke it in two.
The ink it squirted in the water – wow!
His mummy has a blue boy now.

They scrubbed and they rubbed
He cried and kicked up a din.
The more they washed it off
The more it washed in.
He cried ‘Oh mummy, mummy, what shall I do,
I’ll have to stay a Little Blue,
I’ll have to stay a Little Blue’.

The lyrics are some of the craziest and best I’ve ever heard, although they do kind of make me feel a bit sad somehow. I’ve wracked my brains trying to remember Little Blue from my childhood but I think he was just a bit before my time and probably didn’t get repeated a lot like Bagpuss did!

Little Blue – his mum is called Mrs Jellybun!

Happy Days With Peter Pussy – A Linette Picture Book. This one has pretty scalloped edges and a textured front and back page.

Happy Days with Peter Pussy

Peter Pussy’s day out includes the most marvellous adventures any cat could wish for ~ playing on the beach, a boat trip, refreshments at a cat motel, ice cream, fishing with Daddy, and a game of Blind Pussies Buff!

One of the lovely illustrations from the book
Some of the pages, all with full colour illustrations. Such a cute book!

This is a fab little book called Bobbity Bunny, it’s all about a pink toy rabbit who escapes from a stall at the fair to try to find someone who will dance with him!

Bobbity Bunny book

It isn’t dated, but I think it’s late 50s or early 60s. The illustrations are so nice.

Bobbity Bunny chats to a deer friend!
More Bobbity Bunny fun!

This Emu book I picked up really made me laugh!

Rod Hull’s Emu On His Own, 1978

The story is about Emu and his solo expedition to the supermarket to buy some cabbages. It doesn’t get much better, does it? There are some amazing, not to mention amusing, illustrations of Emu up to his old tricks. Images are in both colour and black & white.

Emu, shopping for cabbages.

Lastly, I found an amazing set of six 1970s cut-out shaped picture books.

Six animal picture books!

These books are not easy to find anymore so it’s great to have a set of six! They were printed by a company called Peter Haddock Ltd of Bridlington, UK, who produced picture books from the 1950s right up until 2012 when they closed.

The titles included are –
The Singing Contest
Joe and the Outlaws
Fire in the Forest
The New Alarm Clock
The Frightened Wolf
The Strangers From Another Planet

Inside the front cover, plus a selection of pages. I really like the yellow chick with berries in his beak.
Ever seen a fire engine manned by ducks before?

The stories are wide-ranging, covering topics such as forest fires, bank robbery and kidnap! They’re written in quite an old-fashioned and matter of fact style.

I would have loved these illustrations when I was a kid!

There are more pictures and details over in the Magic Town Midway Etsy shop, follow the link to the book section to see any currently available books –

The Magic Town Midway vintage Book Shelf.

x J x

Designing New Branding for Etsy

After trying several different ideas for my new Etsy shop branding, I decided to go with the theme of a vintage fairground or circus.

Magic Town Midway rebranding
Rough sketch showing how I wanted my shop header and logo to look

I decided this mainly because the word ‘midway’ is an American term for a sideshow or an area of amusements at a fairground. I like the idea of my shop being a bit of a bazaar, almost like a little museum of curiosities from the past mixed with art from the future. A kind of sideshow. As I collect and sell vintage, the vintage fairground theme definitely seemed like a good idea! I did a few rough sketches, then started researching vintage lettering and patterns.

Magic Town Midway Rebranding ideas
Letters and a logo idea

Lettering was one of my worst classes at college so I’m actually quite pleased with how these turned out. I drew all of the letters by hand, scanned them, and then played about in Photoshop ’til they looked right.

Magic Town Midway rebranding

Somewhere on Google images I found a picture of an old fairground sign which said ‘Our aim is to please you’. I really loved the idea of this for my shop and decided to use it on a scroll. I also found some fairground pictures of big painted wooden arrows bearing slogans like ‘Winner’ and ‘Get Lucky’, so decided to have one of these each side of my banner to frame it nicely and welcome people in!

Magic Town Midway Etsy shop
The final header and logo

The main arch across the centre of my final design is based on a sign I saw above a ghost train! The orange circles along each edge are the lights. And the striped background was an idea I got from an old fashioned coconut shy. I wanted the banner to be bright and eyecatching, as well as something I could use across all social medias.

Magic Town Midway business cards
New business cards to send with Etsy orders

It took me awhile to get it all together, but I’m pleased with how it looks now 🙂



End of Intermission. Part Two – Magic Town Midway

Hello, Janine here! Welcome to my new corner of the internet – ‘The Magic Town Midway Blog’!

Magic Town Midway
Magic Town Midway

I had a previous long-running blog, ‘The Dilys Treacle Blog’. When I started blogging in 2009 I’d set up a small greeting card publishing business, Dilys Treacle Treasures, with a website and Etsy shop of the same name. I used to write about my adventures in card publishing, plus anything else I liked.

Several years down the line however, I’d moved away from the greeting card world as the business side was taking up more time than designing and doing stuff I loved. In 2015 I reopened my Etsy shop to sell some remaining stock, but also listed some vintage things too, mainly stuff I’d picked up at antique shops but never had room to display!

Vintage Tiddley Winks found by Magic Town Midway

My love of history and mid century design meant that collecting vintage trinkets had been a long term pastime, and it seemed a natural progression to curate a vintage collection online which I could sell in my shop.

Before I knew it the vintage side had taken over and I was out and about most weekends scouring the local area for old treasures…anything from cool toys and books, to quirky curios and bric-a-brac. I must confess that around 80% of the time I feel unable to part with the things I find and they end up somewhere in our front room, but mostly I know the treasures will be heading to good new homes and that makes me happy enough to let them go! I’ve recently added a selection of vintage greeting cards and postcards to the shop, plus a few antiques, and I’m also planning on using it as an outlet for my own artwork and illustration stuff in the coming months, so there will be a real random mix.

Magic Town Midway Vintage goodies
A few things for sale in my shop.

Once I’d started selling vintage I renamed the Etsy shop and the blog ‘Magic Town Midway’. I’d liked the name Magic Town for awhile, and a midway is an American term for a sideshow or amusements at a fairground, which I thought fitted in well with my ever-growing online bazaar!

I’ve been working on rebranding for the last few months and have now started afresh by getting a new blog too. The whole shebang! So, without further ado, I hereby christen this blog The Magic Town Midway Blog!

Click here to visit the shop.

Stay tuned…